Wednesday, April 30, 2008

NAIL GUN MASSACRE


NAIL GUN MASSACRE (1985)

As is common with many slasher films of the 80’s the plot for this little gem is wafer thin, but it’s not the plot that keeps it going and has made it a cult classic today. The film opens with a young woman being raped by a group of construction workers. As far as rape scenes go this baby has got nothing on I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. Hell, it’s really got nothing on an explicit episode of The Brady Bunch. Pretty tame stuff. Well, it doesn’t take long before a camouflage wearing, motor cycle helmeted looney with a self contained nail gun happens on the scene. And it’s a good thing the killer is wearing camouflage too. Seems that if you’re less than three feet from the psycho you can’t see them …because the killer’s wearing camouflage!?!



So, it doesn’t take long before this dirt water town in Texas is overrun with dead bodies. The local sheriff is real good at driving around in his unmarked car wearing a generic brown shirt and plastic badge that changes from one side of his shirt to the other for no apparent reason. The local doctor is some Trans-Am driving dude who thinks he’s cool and they spend the day running around looking for bodies. And, according to the doc, all the bodies have been laying around for hours. This would be okay, but the film only shows the passage of maybe two days tops. There aren’t enough hours in the day to manage what this killer does. Not only does he have the ability to kill people with non lethal shots from a nail gun, but he can then make it seem as if they’ve been dead for hours. One guy he nails to a tree by the hands. I’m sorry, but it would hurt like hell and you’d lose some blood, but you could be hanging there for days before you expire from exposure, not blood loss. Maybe he dips the nails in poison?



And as for the identity of our killer. Well, that doesn’t take a lot of figuring out. You know the scene in many films where they show some guy or gal and they look really suspicious? Yeah, the old red herring trick. They do this one time in the film and it’s the killer! Real suspense going on there.
As much grief as I’ve been giving the film you’re probably waiting for the other shoe to drop, right? Nope. I remember watching this film on its initial release. The video boom was in full swing and slasher films stalked the land. It was a golden age that we all enjoyed. Sure, there were some awful pieces of crap oozing from the wood work, but this film always held a dear place in my heart. First, we get the ultra reality of the fact that none of these folks are actors. The lady, who runs the local grocery store and has some of the wildest dialogue in the movie, is the director’s grandma! No one in this film went on to anything else. Well, except for the hot blonde in the beginning of the film. With a body like that you know she had to have a career somewhere. Second, we get the wildest killer of all time. The motorcycle helmet has tape over the visor to help hide the identity of the killer. Sure, they could have used a smoked plastic visor, but they probably didn’t have one and those damned things cost money! The camouflage jumpsuit is a nice added touch of bizarre to the entire proceedings. Factor into that the electronic, garbled voice that the killer has plus his penchant for making truly funny puns with each kill and we have a character begging for a franchise. I’m amazed that a sequel never came from this. Finally, Terry Lofton gives us a competent film. Sure there are plot holes you can run a semi through and continuity is similar to a grade school play, but they gave it their all and you can see it on the screen.
The DVD gives us a pretty clean print for what we have to work with. The only extra is a 24 minute interview with Director Lofton. The man is personable and lets us in on most of the secrets about making the film. He also lets a few cats out of the bag concerning questions people have asked him over the years. My favorite? Remember the scene I mentioned with his grandma? Watch carefully as the scene ends and she hands the young folks their box of groceries. Under the box is her script for the film. She even turns a page and checks it and then looks at the camera and smiles. Things like that crack me up and add a certain homey feeling to the proceedings. The folks at Synapse who released the disc also include a hilarious little essay entitled, ’20 Things I Learned From Watching The Nail Gun Massacre. A funny read and a nice little addition to the package.
Nail Gun Massacre is a shining example of what was lying on the video shelves of yesteryear and still worth watching today.

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